A Man Named Pearl, And Tree Circus

Pearl Fryar is…well, I’ve read this about him before, but it’s true…a real-life Edward Scissorhands.

He can take just about any plant – in fact, he got started with nursery shop cast-offs – and turn them into healthy, beautiful works of topiary art.

The DVD for “A Man Named Pearl” came out back in November, but I just got it on Netflix last week and it was really-really good (although maybe a little bit long). It was all about how Mr. Fryar got started in 1984 when he decided he wanted to win his town of Bishopville, South Carolina ‘yard of the month’ award. This wasn’t just nice landscaping.

Here is some more footage from ETV:

…and over 100 pics on Flickr.

On his original website (note that this link has been updated to the Garden Conservancy’s, as his is no longer in service), Mr. Fryar even invites everyone to his home at 145 Broad Acres Road and says:

All are welcome and if you find me at home, I’ll stop whatever I am doing to visit with you and tell you about my work and why I create topiary sculpture.

Oh, and he didn’t learn from any books, or take any courses – he’s self-taught, which is probably a good thing, because most everyone in the documentary, including experts in the field, can’t believe what he’s been able to accomplish.

This reminds me of a show I saw once about the late Axel Erlandson, who did ornamental tree grafting like no one else. He wasn’t like Mr. Fryar in that he didn’t explain his methods, so how he did many of his designs are still a mystery.

Mr. Erlandson transplanted some of his trees to a spot in California that he called the “Tree Circus” back in the 1940s, which he intended to make money with by charging people an admission fee. Over the years, it changed hands until finally today the trees have been moved to a non-profit family theme park called Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, California.

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